Artists As Workers : Important research paper by Professor David Throsby and Katya Petetskaya for Creative Australia

Artists as Workers: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia

May 06, 2024


Artists as Workers: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia, by David Throsby and Katya Petetskaya, is the seventh in a landmark study, carried out independently over the last four decades by Professor Throsby and colleagues at Macquarie University, with support from Creative Australia (previously the Australia Council for the Arts).  

Conducted at roughly sixyear intervals, the series tracks the working conditions of artists, providing information about their artistic practice, income, career development and pathways, and their broader working lives.  

The latest survey was in the field late 2022 and early 2023 and examines activity in the 2021-22 financial year. This edition therefore captures the conditions for artists in the wake of COVID-19 and coincides with the Australian Government’s January 2023 announcement of its five-year national cultural policy Revive: A place for every story, a story for every place  

Key Insights

Artists as Workers: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia  highlights a number of challenges and opportunities faced by professional artists.  

  • How can artists sustain and continue artistic practice alongside other commitments, constraints and/or the need to earn a living? 
  • How does the artistic workforce represent broader Australian society and what barriers affect different groups? 
  • How are artists’ skills, capabilities and ways of working aligned with the changing nature of work? 
  • How is societal and technological change impacting Australian artists and their work?  
  • How can professional artists be supported, protected and remunerated into the future? 

These questions are explored in Artists as Workers: A summary and response by Creative Australia. Key survey findings are placed alongside other literature and analysis to highlight and contextualise emerging trends, and to discuss what they mean for Australian artists into the future.

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